It was a year for killing trees. Almost -- though not all -- of the most talked about books of 2002 were huge, toe-breaking tomes that begged the question: do consumers want bigger books, or was it just one of those weird publishing coincidences? Whatever the case, serious reading in 2002 involved turning a lot of pages. As January contributing editor David Abrams notes in his write-up of the gargantuan The Crimson Petal and the White, "many trees nobly sacrificed their lives so that others may read."

Once again, January Magazine's search for best books of the year turned up a diverse shopping cart full of reading material. Whatever your tastes, it's pretty likely that at least one of our reviewers picked something you'll enjoy.

Those of us involved with January's editorial process are plenty proud of our annual best of the year feature. In some ways, we work on it for the full twelve months, making notes on the books we liked a lot, later eliminating some titles as choices we liked better turned up.

Each year, January's editors and contributors are asked to select the titles they liked best. The criteria? The book has to have been published in the English language during the preceding 12 months. Of course, what's best is subjective and how it's quantified varies from reviewer to reviewer. We're not necessarily looking for an epic canvas, a huge cast of characters or a convoluted plot line. Rather, what's "best" are the books that touched us, made us pause or moved us in some deep and real way.

Our selections are listed in alphabetical order within genre. The book that is listed first in a genre wasn't necessarily our first choice, merely one of those chosen. Each book's description is bylined, so you can see which of our writers chose your own favorites. Did we miss your favorite altogether? Please let us know. We love hearing from you.

Linda L. Richards
editor, January Magazine

Click below for the Best of list you'd like to see: